Following confirmation by the EU’s independent anti-fraud body OLAF that it is looking into the allegations of fraudulent misuse of EU funds by former European Parliament President Martin Schulz, the Parliament’s own Budgetary Control Committee has now begun investigating the accusations.
According to internal documents obtained by the BBC, the EP Budget Control Committee will use its annual so-called “discharge procedure” to examine in detail the recent revelations about Martin Schulz in various German mainstream media. The Committee is obliged to review all payments made by EU institutions in previous years, and sign off the accounts. In the current exercise, it has appointed Dutch MEP Dennis De Jong to scrutinise the European Parliament’s own accounts for the year 2015.
Committee Chair, German MEP Ingeborg Graessle, who has described the five years of Martin Schulz’ presidency as a “Stalinist system of cronyism” has tabled a series of questions aimed at throwing some light on the murky practices of the Schulz era, which included dubious employment contracts for his political cronies and travel expenses when no travel was involved.
Under particular scrutiny is party crony Markus Engels for whom Schulz arranged a five-year “long term mission” in Berlin for the duration of his EP Presidency, claiming that he really lived in Brussels, which allowed Engels to claim both an expatriate allowance and mission expenses. One of the questions tabled by Ms Graessle asks: “Why was Brussels chosen as place of employment, which entitled him to 273 daily allowances plus 16% expat allowance plus travel costs, despite the fact that no travel costs occurred? Who decided on the place of employment?”
It also asks by what process Mr Engels was selected for the post.
A formal response by Parliament’s Secretary General to the Budget Control Committee’s questions is expected early March.